What Sales Operations, Analytics & Strategy Professionals Do
Although companies have had departments that focus on sales operations, analytics, and strategy for decades now, Sales Ops is still a developing niche. Professionals who work in this area support growing companies and startups to help them take it to the next level.
Their jobs are strategic in nature. They analyze what the sales teams are doing, and then make recommendations on how the team can operate better without increasing the budget or adding more salespeople. Using the techniques and strategies recommended by the Sales Ops team, such as sales territory planning, the company is then able to scale its sales efforts to meet new milestones without additional burden to the company.
Who would enjoy a career in Sales Operations, Analytics & Strategy?
People with analytical minds do best in the profession, as examining large sets of data and identifying areas of opportunity is an essential component of any sales ops job. Adept communicators also do well, as individuals must work with sales teams, executive staff, and other departments is a crucial job component. Familiarity with technology and automation is important too. Lastly, people who possess leadership skills and who are self-motivated tend to be the most successful. There is often a close relationship between Sales Ops and Sales Leadership, so those who enjoy exposure to the top level of management will enjoy this pathway.
Who mightn't like the career?
Sales ops can sometimes require making hard decisions that involve real people, such as outsourcing or pushing for major changes in the way a sales team handles a process. For this reason, it can be a difficult career for people who are more-inclined to made decisions based on emotion rather than what benefits the organization most. Sales Ops can also work significantly more hours than their account management or sales team counterparts and sometimes for considerably less total compensation, which can be frustrating for some following this path.
Most people have at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business administration, accounting, computer science or related field. An MBA is expected at the upper levels. Experience with various analytical tools to monitor sales performance and the sales process is also a must. For more information, see: “Sales Operations Roles and Responsibilities,” “Why Sales Ops Is So Hard to Get Right,” and “Sales Ops: From Strategy To Revenue.”
Candidates may be asked about everything from their sales and business experience, through which analytical tools they use, what processes they might improve, what improvements they’ve made for other companies, and ethics-related questions.
- Sales Operations Interview Questions
- Sales Operations Analyst Sample Job Description
- Sales Operations 101: Roles, Duties, Headaches, and Pro Tips
Moving into Sales Operations, Analytics & Strategy from another career
Many careers, particularly those in sales or business, can serve as a gateway to a career in Sales Ops. For further reading, see: “How To Shift Your Sales Career Path” and “Considering A Career In Sales Operations.” Many management consultants, technical salespeople and sales engineers transition into this area on the basis that their analytical skills and knowledge of sales position them well for the day-to-day of a Sales Ops role.
Sales Operations Analyst
Role: Although the entry-level position title may vary from one organization to the next, most use the names “sales operations analyst” or “sales operative” to denote it. In this role, professionals gather and evaluate analytical data for senior staffers.
Sales Operations Manager
Role: Sometimes called business sales managers, sales ops managers use the data gathered by analysts to come up with areas for improvement and changes that can be implemented. They also forecast sales and set goals. It typically takes two or more years to move from an analyst to manager role, and can take several more years to move into a senior leadership position or executive role.
Head of Sales/ Director of Sales Operations
Role: The head of sales is responsible for the overall success of a product. He or she oversees managers, defines objectives and goals, and helps ensure that managers have the tools they need to implement changes or improve success. In cases where a company does not offer a direct sales op executive position, managers may move into other director roles, such as director of operations or sales director.
It’s quite common for professionals in the upper levels to travel to anywhere the organization has sales employees or locations the company is considering outsourcing to. International travel, particularly to outsourcing hotspots throughout Asia, and even temporary relocation to these areas, is sometimes required.
Analyst: According to data from PayScale, sales ops analysts have salaries of approximately USD$61,000 in the United States, £25,539 in the United Kingdom, CAD$53,994 in Canada, and AU$56,500 in Australia.
Manager: USD$80,000, £39,348, CAD$67,485 AU$90,525.
Head/ Director: USD$113,000, £72,019, CAD$100,953, AU$145,140*.
*Director of Sales Ops salary not available for AU; Director of Sales salary used.
Bonuses, profit sharing, and commission may increase total pay 5-10% above the base salaries listed.
Why Sales Operations, Analytics & Strategy Professionals move on
Although large, established companies may keep a sales ops team on permanently, it’s still somewhat common for organizations to bring in professionals long enough to make assessments and changes, then let them go. For this reason, many work in a consultancy capacity or change jobs regularly.
There is also often a great deal of pressure from the executive team to produce certain results. Non-performing sales ops professionals are often let go. However, others simply migrate into other sales, operations, business management, or marketing positions over time. As mentioned above, the sometimes incongruent compensation between sales and Sales Ops and differing career progression opportunities to executive leadership positions may cause professionals to transition roles or leave the field altogether.
For more information, see “What Does a Career Path for a Sales Ops Leader Look Like?” and “Where is Your Career in Sales Ops Headed?”